Investing in protecting the environment isn’t just the right thing to do. With much of Sudan’s economy and employment relying on our natural resources, the smart choice is investing in sustainable use of water, and rural development.

Sudan is rich in natural assets, which offer a critical chance for nationwide green economic development, employment, and stability. They offer opportunities for Sudan’s 65 percent rural population, many of whom rely on subsistence and traditional farming, and other vulnerable members of society. However, these natural assets, and the livelihoods they create, face many threats and challenges.

Environmental damage due to overuse or misuse - often caused by desperate people with limited alternatives - conflicts, and the effects of a changing climate are among these threats. Unfortunately, it is often those most in need who feel the greatest impacts - particularly the poor, and rural communities.

Addressing these challenges – with smart climate investment to build resilience and reduce vulnerability – can create livelihood opportunities at the community level, opportunities for economic development and sustain peace and stabilization. This is where UNDP comes in, supporting Sudan’s Government to create and grow initiatives that move Sudan forward.

Recently, more than US$70m of UNDP-linked projects have been launched in the environment sector, combining environmental protection, investment in natural assets, and job creation. Together, we expect these will support 3.7m people in several ways, many directly from investment in livelihoods.

This includes a $41.2m climate-resilient rural development, livelihoods and water initiative supporting 138 villages in nine states, focusing on rehabilitating land for sustainable use, introducing new climate-resilient activities, and building infrastructure such as wells, dams, and water storage. Meanwhile, a new $23.6m initiative to better protect 20,000 km2 of Sudan’s key national parks includes a focus on expanding livelihood opportunities for the 62 communities inside and adjacent to the parks, in addition to investment in biodiversity protection.

The above efforts are coupled with UNDP’s $20m investment to ensure access to energy via renewable solutions – like replacing diesel-powered irrigation systems with solar – which offers a concrete solution to reducing emissions while improving productivity, efficiency and incomes for farmers, communities and rural development.

What these investments demonstrate is that environmental sustainability and economic development can, should and must go hand in hand. Investing in the environment isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for the economy and communities. By investing smartly, we can address vulnerabilities to future threats while improving opportunities for those most in need now.

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